Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
I’d draw your attention to a detail in today’s Gospel which I think is important: we’re told that the Angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin betrothed to a man. The context of this episode is courtship and marriage. No matter how different the customs and conventions of that time and place are from ours, it’s nonetheless true that the Scriptural language of courtship and marriage involve longing, desire, beauty and the hope of fulfillment in consummation.
For the moment–and perhaps I’m thinking this way because we’ve recently celebrated Holy Week and have just completed the Easter Octave–I’d direct your attention from Mary’s response to God’s initiative. Isn’t the Incarnation and its annunciation to Mary an expression of God’s desire and search for espousal with the humanity he created? Isn’t that a sort of courtship?
And isn’t our humanity, as medieval theologians loved to remind us, a sacrament of all creation? Wouldn’t this movement on God’s part, be part of that arc from creation to, in Saint Paul’s words, God becoming all in all?
From the time human beings emerged from the hand of God, Revelation tells us, God has sought us to bring us to fulfillment, even in our broken, sinful state. God has tried everything to wake us up, to shake us up; to recognize what we lack, left to our own devices; to stimulate our responsiveness to the divine initiatives.
I believe it could be said that we need not take vicarious satisfaction in Mary’s consent to the annunciation. Rather, we too could respond through Mary’s response as God continues to wake and shake us up.
There’s an ancient verse from the Byzantine Christmas liturgy that says the sky offered God a star; the angels, their song of glory; the earth, a cave; the beasts, an ox and an ass–and the human race offered God Mary in the Mystery of the Word made flesh. Mary is not the only one of us who got it right. We could fulfill our human vocation to complete creation by entering into her mystery and our divinization.